A Rivers born retired Colonel of the Nigerian Army and political scientist, Colonel Chinedu Owhonda has described the Rivers State Governor, Chief Barr. Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike, as the Jackal of Nigerian politics. In this interview with the Editor-In-Chief of National Momentum newspaper, Blaise Elumezie, Colonel Owhonda bares his mind on the developmental strides in Rivers State from inception to the present government of Wike. He blamed the inability of Old Port Harcourt Province to produce more LGAs on man’s wickedness to his people and stressed on the need for Governor Wike to reconvene TIMARIV and provide job opportunities for Rivers youths, amongst others as they celebrate 50 years anniversary.
INTRODUCE YOURSELF, SIR? I am Colonel Chinedu Owhonda, I retired from the Nigerian Army.
LET’S LOOK AT YOUR BACKGROUND IN THE MILITARY? Yes, I served the military about 27 years and some months before I voluntarily retired from the Army and while in service, I rose from Second Lieutenant to Senior Major. I did my career in the North, Birnin kebbi, Sokoto. I was in Birnin Kebbi for over 15 years as Adjutant, as NTO, Finance Officer, as TYC, as Company Commander until I left there before I left for my Staff College. Within that period, we were in the war front in Benin Republic, Niger, before going to Liberia, Sierra Leone, after which, we went to Bakassi.
We fought in Mali and Somalia. We were on and on over the years fighting and fighting. I was in the war front for over 15 years.
With that little experience I had, when I came back I did my staff college and I was posted to Calabar as G3 (General Officer 3) before I moved when I got promotion letter to be Chief of Staff 13 Brigade, before then I was the Commanding Officer Rear 174 Battalion Ikorodu. I was there for over 4 years because the battalion was in Bakassi with the main body, then I was made the Commanding Officer Rear in 1999 up to 2004.
I was there, because we started the Operation Sweep in Lagos and that Operation Sweep really paid off because then, I was in charge of Epe LGA, Ikorodu, Ifako-Ijaye LGA and in charge of security apparatus there. When I finished my tenure there as the Commanding Officer Rear, I was moved to Staff College to do my Senior Division Staff Course after I came back, before I was moved to Calabar. When I came back to Calabar after becoming the Chief of Staff, I was now posted back to Lagos as the Commanding Officer 149 Battalion Ojo Cantonment, and later became the Cantonment Commander.
You know, when we had the election of Senator Bola Tinubu, I was the person that prosecuted the election in 2006 and 2007 there about. I was in charge of 12 LGAs in Lagos then, when Fashola contested and became the governor of Lagos State. I think within the period I worked in Lagos, I worked with two governors, Asiwaju Tinubu and Fashola, before I was now posted to 81 Division of the Nigerian Army as the Chief Liason Officer, where I met General Ihejirika and there I spent about 1 year before I voluntarily retired from the Army.
HAVING ENUMERATED ALL THESE, WERE THERE CHALLENGES IN THE COURSE OF YOUR SERVICE, SIR? Yes, there were lots of challenges, especially when you are in forefront. When I mean forefront, when you are doing your job rightly and correctly, you will see a lot of challenges from your subordinate, from your senior and even those outside. But, I am one man that is very thorough in doing his job in his own way. I do my job the way it is supposed to be done. I don’t bloody care whose toe I stepped on, because there is one thing in Nigeria. Corruption is one problem that has eaten deep in into our system and by virtue of that, all of us have to fight it and I fought corruption to a standstill in Ojo Cantonment and Ojo Cantonment is the biggest in Africa.
It has close to 1.3 million people residing there. It has over 18 units in that cantonment. When I mean 18 units, I mean 18 appropriate units with over 5 institutions. You talk about the school of Accounting, the medical school, the ordinance school, even State Security Service (SSS), their training school is within Ojo Cantonment. We have other units like the engineering and the population there is something that when I carried out a census in Ojo as the Cantonment Commander, I recorded about 1.3 million people living there and you have people from all parastatals coming there to do courses. You have in the medical for example, the Immigration, the prisons, customs coming to do courses in our medical school.
You talk about the Accounting school not to talk about the ordinance school. You talk about the Army corps band; the unit is also located there and so on. So, you have all kinds of units. We have 18 units in that cantonment. You will come across a whole lot of things because we Nigerians are very dubious. So, I had to fight corruption head on, so that society can move on. By the grace of God I succeeded in fighting and bringing them down. We had whole lot of issues, in as much as when we fought corruption. A lot of people were there to sabotage us, they were there to run us down but we stood our ground and made sure that a lot of things took place and that is the right thing. So, by the grace of God, I was able to survive there, even when there were whole lot of challenges and whole lot of issues that emanated, but I survived it and came out of it. The Army cleared me before I left, because I was no longer interested in the job. I tell you the truth.
DO YOU HAVE ANY REGRET SIR? No regrets, you see, the Army, one could not attend the rank of a General does not mean that I did not gain a lot from the Army. I gained, one thing I gained from the Army is very clear: been upright, disciplined and doing things the right way because it helps a man in doing a lot of things. The way I think, take for instance, the Nigerian politicians. Anywhere they find themselves, they push and follow. Especially when it comes to a time that the see oh, this party did not win, the best they can do is to jump to the other. That should not be the case.
If you are disciplined and have a course with sound mind, you pursue it, you follow it up and that is it. That is what we are doing. Politically, I am not a politician, I support good things and that is why the present government in Rivers State I support it wholeheartedly. Because they are doing a whole lot of jobs that are people oriented. The good roads they are doing, the infrastructural development and so on are the reasons why I am supporting the man. But if he goes wrong, I will still tell him he has gone wrong, I will not move out from that. I will tell him he has gone wrong. But we thank God that we a man who is working for the good of the people. And what he promised them this first four years, he has almost achieved them in these 2 years. So, all I can do is to pray for him and ask God to guide and protect him, to see how he can stumble and crush the obstacles.
HOW HAS YOUR EXPERTISE EXPERIENCE AS A RETIRED ARMY OFFICER HELPED IN ADDRESSING THE ISSUE OF INSECURITY IN RIVERS STATE? The insecurity in my state, if I should say, is man-made. There are lots of people that are not happy with the government and they are doing everything to destabilize it. A lot of synergy has been put in place, the government has synergized with security agencies. Is it the Military; is it the Police, the Customs, the Prisons, or the Immigration that government has not bought gadgets for? Vehicles have been distributed to them to fight insecurity. But you found out that those opposed to Rivers State been a mega State are making sure that there is insecurity. You take the case in Tai, Eleme, Gokana and Kana LGAs where a politician was in a videotape making some violent statements and the whole world kept quiet.
If it is a normal state, that guy should be prosecuted and jailed. You find out that the insecurity in Rivers State is man-made and people are doing it purposely to see how they can destabilize the government and create a state of emergency in the state, is wrong. The government has tried to come up with this amnesty program, which has reduced the rate of insecurity in the state and youth restiveness. A lot of the youths have come out to say we are sorry, we want to synergize, we want to work with the government and what we are praying is for the amnesty to work, because the government has decided to forgive people who have created a very unbearable situation to people in the state. Individuals are also trying to tell their people not to preach violence in politics.
How many countries are seeing the kind of killings that we are seeing in Rivers State. Lagos is there, progressing and Rivers is not. Rivers State is supposed to be the 2nd mega state in Nigeria after Lagos. We celebrated 50 years last week and look at the progress that Lagos has made. But people have made it unbearable here, we don’t even have a state where the political actors will come and put things in place now that politicking is over, so that peace will take over. What is happening in Rivers State is so unfortunate. Things happening here are awful and this is not how human beings play politics.
If you lost, go back and re-strategise on how you can come back after four years and contest. Have better agenda and not to see that the man on the seat does not succeed. This is not what good governance is all about. Good governance is about development and people are getting it right, because of the kind of individuals in place there, but we are saying that Nyesom Wike is there, give him his four years, if he performs well, the Rivers people will say come back and that is part of the constitutional provision. If he performs woefully they will kick him out.
The same people that brought him will kick him out. In a situation where the Rivers people said we have voted somebody, then, people, because they are in opposition at the center will say no, it cannot work, no, it cannot work. No, you cannot, because you are from a different party, is wrong. So, we should learn how to play politics and in a very good way, that is where we stand and that is why I am telling my brothers to give the man a chance to work. After all, when they were there, people did not die. They left the party in an awful way, in a violent way that did not see the light of day. But when we reasoned on what we want people said no, this is what we want; this is our home base, and let us stand on it. Why do you say it must not work? It is wrong and that is why we are telling everyone for goodness sake, please come, let us see how leadership can come into play after politicking. Now, perform for the people and that is what the governor is doing for now.
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR ASSESSMENT OF THE DEVELOPMENTAL STRIDES IN RIVERS STATE FROM THE TIME OF HRM KING DIETE-SPIFF TO THIS PRESENT GOVERNMENT OF WIKE? Blasé, the only government that has made impact in Rivers State in the 50 years that we have is Commander King Alfred Babapriye Diete-Spiff regime and this present one, in the sense that if you look at the infrastructural development strides, all he promised Rivers people he has done them. I was part of the campaign train, moving from one LGA to the other and the once I couldn’t go, I was hearing him on air promising and within two years, he has made some impact. He has developed Rivers State, the road networks and a lot of things are still ongoing. I laugh at people when they say, oh he is not the one that started this project, he borrowed the project from Amaechi. People have forgotten that government is continuum, whether you like it or not government is a continuum and that is why Lagos is moving well today, where Tinubu stopped, Fashola continued, where Fashola stopped, Ambode has continued.
I live in Lagos, I schooled in Lagos. I can tell you better about Lagos and western politics, where Tinubu stopped, Fashola continued, where Fashola stopped Ambode continued. Government is a continuum no matter who was there. If it’s a people’s oriented project, you follow it head on and you finish it. What is wrong with Wike completing a road project? And that is why our people are very myopic politically and otherwise. Because the talk on what they did not know or see. They must not see politics as, if no bi you start am, you must not end am, which is wrong because government is a continuum. Look at Diete-Spiff’s projects, they are still there, look at the secretariat for example, he built it in the seventies (70s).
I worked in that secretariat as a civil servant, as a clerk, and as an under-secretary before I joined the Army. That is a project that some of them cannot even paint or maintain because of the amount, but this is a 19 storey building, they call it Podium Block that was built by Diete-Spiff and nobody can paint it. The only thing any government has done there is to put the lift, finish. Because people used to climb up to the 19th floor before Odili put a lift there. That is the only new thing that is there, and then, that white wash paint. They can’t do anything but Wike in his short period has done more than enough under two years. He is just two years in office on the 29th of May and there has been a lot of distraction on the young man. A lot of distractions, they don’t even want him to work. Look at the legal tussles that have been going on, they were in court until the Supreme Court gave their ruling, look at the re-rum.
It is only in Rivers State that you hear such thing and it is wrong. That is not what we are saying, what we are saying is that after politics, we should forget about it and focus on governance and leadership and that is what Wike should be facing now. But they are distracting him; they don’t want him to work. These are evil minded people, they are all in Abuja now, gallivanting, may be in the next few months they will come and say, oh, they want to contest again, after stealing a whole lot of money. Nigerians know, Rivers people know who their own is. We will keep telling the people the truth.
RIVERS STATE JUST CELEBRATED 50 YEARS GOLDEN JUBILEE, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR EXPECTATION OF RIVERS STATE IN THE NEXT 50 YEARS? Yes, we must celebrate; you see under the leadership of Wike, I see him as a visionary leader. Wike is the jackal of Nigerian politics, I don’t know if you have watched the day of the jackal, Wike is three steps ahead of Nigerian politicians because he is very visionary, he is the jackal of Nigerian politics and that is why he is always ahead of them. You know what happened during the election, you know how many people that contested with him. Over 40 candidates contested with Wike and he hands all of them down. He is the jackal of Nigerian politics and that is why I have whole lot of respect for him because he is three steps ahead of them. It is very few people that have such visionary leadership quality: been straight forward, and always saying the truth and so on.
This is a governor that has risen from the bottom of politics to where he is. He didn’t first start from appointment, he grew from the ranks. He became local government chairman after contesting; he became Chief of Staff through appointment. He became minister because he merited it, he became Minister of State for Education and became Minister of Education before he resigned his appointment and came back to contest and today he is the governor. There is nothing you will tell him about leadership; that is, climbing the chronological system of leadership in Nigerian politics that he doesn’t know. That is why nobody can cheat him or put an obstacle to him in internal revenue and that was why he told the local government chairmen that this the road, this is the line and this is what you collect, this what the state collect and this is what the federal government collects. Because he is straight forward but most people don’t know that he has climbed through the ladder and has seen it all. He has seen 99 and it is remaining one to make it 100.
So, he is the jackal of Nigerian politics. He is three steps ahead and that is just the truth. For Rivers State in the next 50 years, if we have steady visionary leadership, because Wike cannot rule for more than 8 years and that is the truth by the construction. But if we have another governor that will have visionary steps, visionary thinking, visionary ways of doing things, developmentally and otherwise Rivers State will move forward. Because with all the obstacles that have been on his way, he has jumped and passed them, he is working hard. I am not here praising him but we can all see what he is doing. A lot of projects are been commissioned. Let me tell you, there were over 60 projects commissioned. The only time I have seen such is in Akwa Ibom, when Akpabio was there, when he commissioned close to 60 projects in a month because the man was working, then.
Now, you see over 60 projects that were commissioned between Friday and the 27th of May, 2017 when Rivers State turned 50. For a 50 year old man, he is not a young boy any longer. He should be seen as an adult. If there is anything not going on well in Rivers State, it is a big shame to all of us because we are all stakeholders, I am a stakeholder you are a stakeholder. Somebody has been voted in and when someone wants to make a mark, we should thank God for bringing him at this point in time to be the Golden governor of the year when we are celebrating. However, there is need for the governor to create employment, that is the area that Rivers people are lagging and that is why I plead with him to see how he can reconvene or rehabilitate TIMARIV because the traffic issue in Rivers State, particularly in Port Harcourt is embarrassing.
People have taken laws into their hands, especially the taxi drivers that are doing the worst. They will park in the middle of the road, loading and off loading passengers. You need to see what happens during office hours, deliberately the traffic congestion in Rivers State is caused by man, these lawless people come to Port Harcourt to cause problem. Port Harcourt is a mega city and must be respected as such. People should not be lawless. So, he should reconvene TIMARIV or change the name to RIVTA, Rivers Traffic Agency and that is my suggestion, so that things can always be put in place. That is why things are working in Lagos, because I was among those that brought In LASMA and we trained them. He should do the same thing and forget about what TIMARIV may have caused or the injury they infected on Rivers people but to rehabilitate them, so that he can bring them back on board and thereby giving employment to Rivers youths and those that need employment.
IT WAS LIKE A TUG OF WAR BEFORE AN IKWERRE MAN WAS GIVEN THE OPPORTIUNITY TO RULE RIVERS STATE, WOULD YOU SAY THAT THE EMERGENCE OF THE TWO IKWERRE SONS HAVE CHANGED THE POLITICAL EQUATION OF THE STATE FOR GOOD, IN TERMS OF GOVERNANCE? Let me tell you, you know the truth is always bitter, let me tell you one thing, my late father used to be the Administrator of Port Harcourt City, Sir Jackson W. Owhonda. He used to be Mayor of Port Harcourt during Oyakhilome and Ukpo time: 1985, 86, 88. When the creation of more local governments came up my father wrote a memo that the old Port Harcourt province should be given 6 local governments.
But because of our people that were there made sure that the Ikwerre man never had more than 4 local governments and that is why today, let me emphasize that today Obio/Akpor electoral votes is more than the whole of Bayelsa, Abia, Enugu and Ebony States put together. The whole of Emohua has more electoral votes more than the whole of Bayelsa, why is it like that? It is because of the population there. Ordinarily old Port Harcourt province would have been given 6 local governments. Let me mention them as my father wrote in the memo he submitted to the commission where our own brother is the secretary of the creation of local government but he vowed, making sure that nothing came out of it because he said that if the Ikwerres are given more local governments they will take bigger share of the state but that doesn’t mean, because even one local government can overturn all the other LGAs, election wise.
In Port Harcourt, if 688,000 vote for one person en-mass, it can scatter the whole of the votes from all the riverine area. I am sorry to say it, but we must tell the truth and that is why I am not afraid of anything but to say the truth. Now, the old Port Harcourt province was supposed to have North, Port Harcourt South Local Government, Evo, Apara, Akpo and Port Harcourt Central. My father wrote the memo with my younger brother, Okay Owhonda, a lawyer. Check all the former provinces in Nigeria, how many municipal has 12 local governments created out of it, Ibadan has 9 LGAs created out of it. Lagos Municipal Council has 6 local governments.
The emergence of the Ikwerres in the governance of Rivers State has made a significant impact because we have stopped the counting of periwinkles as human beings. I can vividly tell you that the election that was carried out in 1979 which Melford Okilo won, that he never won any election. It was fraud, because they will wait for the upland votes coming in millions, they will wait and then go and count periwinkles, oysters, fish, and bring. Watch it; is it not the same Bayelsa that was with Rivers State before, what is their population? They are less than 500,000 but they were counting in millions. Okilo won an election counting periwinkles and so on. And that was what happened. Now it has come to reality, whether we like it or not, it has come to reality. The Ijaws do they have the population? No, they don’t have, this is where the population is. Check the history, those closer to water claim to more populated, they cannot be counting creeks and say they are more populated.
And that was why the secretary then, for the creation of local governments made sure that the upland never had local governments but unfortunately, you cannot even without the creation of local governments stop the population, the population must go on and that is where democracy comes in, in politics. Now, Port Harcourt that is supposed to be 6 local governments they carved out only 2 local governments out of it and the two local governments, Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt have over 688,000 electoral votes more than that of the whole of Bayelsa put together, that is less than 450,000. Emohua has close to 580,000 electoral votes Ikwerre has close to 580,000, so you should know that those local governments are supposed to be 4 or 5 by now. Have you been to Akuku-Toru, Asari-Toru? They are streets that were made local governments. I don’t want to mention other local governments. Ogu-Bolu is how many local government? One local government, but it has less than 100,000 people. So, it was man’s wickedness to man, if not, Rivers State should before now have close to 40 LGAs and that was how we cheated ourselves. That was how we shot ourselves on the leg.
Because kano alone has 43 local governments, Kano Municipality just like Port Harcourt, they created 12 local governments out of it and we are busy shouting. Talking from both sides of our mouth and people are not ashamed of themselves. You bring down people and you think you have killed them you cannot kill them because there is always God. Because politics is about demography, population and that is why today, whether we like it or not, if the lkwerres want to be governor in the next 20 years, they will be but they are a tribe that does not have inordinate ambition, they will give it to another tribe at the appropriate time. Go to Benue, the Tivs as a tribe has the largest population and they have been producing governors for the past 15, 20 years ago. Go and find out.
The ldomas are next in population, if you go to Delta, the Urhobos have more but they are not united and that is why somebody is manipulating them. If the Urhobos say today that the governorship will not pass them, I can bet you it will not pass them. They will keep producing it because they have a bigger population. See, kano has 43 local governments, a state that is contributing zero to the national economy is collecting millions from the federal allocation. l have lived in Birnin kebbi for 18 years during my service in the Army, you see one village that does not have up to 2000 people as a local government. I can mention names of local governments in kebbi that does not have up to1500 people. They created them because the use landmarks. Can you travel from Akpajo to lriebe, Rumuolumeni, down to UNIPORT axis; that is Obio/Akpor. How many kilometers, how many people will you pass as one local government and then you are crying.
They have six hundred and eighty something thousand electoral votes. This new registration, it will hit may be 80, 000. God knows, bearing in mind that up to 50,000 have died or don’t have electoral card. That is what we are saying; we shot ourselves on the leg, all because of wickedness. And that is why I have challenged all of them to come for a debate, for us to know how it goes. I have challenged them severally and they don’t want to come, because it is awful, wickedness of man to man. Just because God wants you to climb, you cannot climb and remove the ladder. You cannot even come down because if you remove the ladder you cannot even come down. It is an embarrassment, how we treated ourselves, our people are wicked to themselves. That is our major problem in this place. We are not progressive, we are myopic, we don’t think and that is the major problem we have.
IS THERE ANY NEED TO REDRESS THE SITUATION? How do you redress the situation when the National Assembly has made it clear that no local government can be created. You can’t create any local government under this dispensation, because everybody wants his village, his family and even his community to be a local government. Because the law is very clear, creation of local government has to pass through different processes. It is only the military that has done it. You cannot even create new states; it is time to tell ourselves the truth. Are you not aware that the Ogonis are asking for a new state, led by Senator N. Baridon, has it come to light? Because there is a stooge that kept saying, if not for this, they wouldn’t and that is the game they are plying there. National Assembly members, do they know anything? They are only just after their pockets and that is why they cannot bring out any reasonable law in 16 or 17 years of democracy. Have they created even one local government? It is argument upon argument that does not hold water. It was only the military that was able to say this is this and this is this and that was why they were able to create a state like Bayelsa. It was through decree that Abacha said no, I must create that state because if Abacha had said no, nobody would have. But for 16 or 17 years of democracy, nothing has happened.
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR ASSESSMENT OF THE APC LED ADMINISTRATION WITHIN TWO YEARS OF ITS EXISTENCE? Are you not aware of the promises of APC, change, they say they are coming to change. Dollars rose from what to what? Petrol prize was N67.00, it goes to N160.00 and later they brought it back to N145.00, are you not aware? What is the present exchange of dollars? How many people have they employed? How many youths have been given scholarship? They keep recovering money but we don’t know where the money is. Is it the change? Budget cannot be passed, budget is over padded, budget is stolen, paper oh! Human being thief budget run, then you say you are bring change, change to who?
The whole thing is fraud, it is scandalous. It is a scam, a big scam. Look, I have always told the world one thing, it is the same vehicle, may be the change the driver. The driver is the only person that has been changed and not the passengers. What do I mean; the APC and the PDP are the same thing, they only changed driver. They changed driver of Obasanjo to Jonathan. Now it is Buhari that is driving. It is the same Agboro and his conductor. It is all fraud, fraud, fraud. There is no change that can work, Nigerians are dying. My brother, let me tell you, some of us are a little bit privileged to see what we can eat. If you go to the villages, things are worst of, things are worst.
Even in your village, Blaise, go to your village and see what is happening, people are committing suicide on daily basis. Nigeria does not want to address it. Now, they have prohibited the media not to report suicide cases, because it will create a negative impact on the image of Nigeria, negative impact. Nigerians are not known to be committing suicide; you hardly hear that a Nigerian killed himself or herself. But this is the order of the day because people cannot eat. They don’t even know how tomorrow will look like. People are stealing pot of soup, running away with it, as you are cooking, may be you say, let me go inside and collect maggi or salt, before you come out, your soup don disappear.
That is what is happening, a government that does not look at the human aspect of life, they are only thinking of recovery, recovery what? For who? Re-enroute that is what is taking place, as they are discovering they are re-enrouting. I was watching Richard Quest the other day, in fact, he said no country should give Nigerian loan or release money to Nigeria. Richard Quest said this on CNN. For goodness sake, what are you recovering, and how much has been recovered? Somebody else is keeping it, is that how we run a country?
It is a question, because I am no longer a youth, I am close to my 60 but my question is, how do we want the little ones and the generations yet unborn to survive? Youths have not been given the opportunity to excel, when I was in primary school, I used to hear about Obasanjo, he was GOC here, Marine Commando. Obasanjo is still in the main stream of Nigerian politics, T.Y. Danjuma is there, these are two examples that I can give you. I am retried, after 28 years of my service in the Nigerian Army. What are they doing there? Then, you will say that the youths are not useful; you are useful for how many years? Take electricity for example. We have 5 thousand mega watts; South Africa has 70 million mega watts. Now, companies are leaving Nigeria for lack of electricity.
As we speak, we are using generator where we are now. Nigeria has all the resources, all the enabling facilities that can factor in electricity. If that alone can be done, there will be a lot of job creation and employment. Rather, they use the youths to create violence, so that their cohorts can be there, because they are using them and the youths do not want to understand themselves because they are been used. If they give them money to cause violence, they think that everything is ok. No man causes violence and will not be killed. If you are using it for robbery, you are using it for cultism or militancy, you will be killed. The security agencies must get you down and that is it. It may be everyday for you, but one day is for the owner of the house.
This is the reason why I keep going to lecture our youths on the danger of criminality, cultism or militancy and to see how they can be useful to themselves, that is the most important. Let them be useful to themselves but in a situation where they think they can be manipulated by the politicians, well, I tell them it can never be uhuru, it can’t be uhuru, there is no way , no way I repeat they can survive, the will be messed up. They should take care of themselves to become leaders of tomorrow; Obasanjo will not be there forever. He can never be there forever. A time will come when he will be shown off and new people will come.
Where would our youths be in terms of leadership? People like Diete-Spiff became governor at the age of 27 but the youngest man, Bamboye was 25. Look at today Spiff is about 70 something years and look at the giant strides in infrastructural development that he achieved in Rivers State. As a young man of 26, 27 but today, I see Nigerians close to 65 that will come and say I am a youth leader. I am ashamed of them, it is embarrassing, that they are youth leaders at 65, 60 something. One would say, I am a youth leader from Orashi, I am a youth leader from Egbema. Blaise, well, I don’t know where your country is heading to.
DO YOU SEE THE POSSIBILITY OF PDP COMING OUT OF ITS CRISIS TO FACE THE RULING APC IN 2019? What is happening in PDP is man-made; it is unfortunate that they went to bring somebody that is having an inordinate ambition. He is interim chairman, caretaker chairman, and also wants to be the presidential candidate. He wants to be everything, already sourcing for vice presidential candidate. No, they said come and lead, caretaker chairman of our party let us hold convention, the man kept postponing convention upon convention and started sourcing for governors from South-East and South-South. Is that what they ask him to do? The man there, called Sheriff is a virus to PDP. They planted him there to kill the PDP as a party and bury it. Because he is a staunch APC member, and we all know that.
I am not a politician, but I am a political scientist and I must not deviate from saying the truth, because I have sympathy for PDP in the sense that, during this struggle that they are passing through, I cannot keep quiet. My generation, my children and children yet unborn will ask, this our daddy that we hear is this, what action did he take when these problems are coming up. Let them hear it that, look oh! This was my suggestion. Sheriff is a virus, he has come to kill PDP for sure we know and the government in power is backing him, pushing him to make sure that PDP does not stand. What is there, hold a convention, let us elect our leader but he has gone to court to stop it.
PDP came up and said, ok, Makarfi is our new leader, he said no, he would not agree, he has gone to Appeal, now we are waiting for Supreme Court to do their own abrakatabra, because the more you look, the less you see, that is what our courts do. But, let me tell you, Nyesome Wike is the jackal of Nigerian politics, he has forged ahead. What is there is that PDP will bounce back, they may use a different name but they will bounce back and they will bounce back for good. The Supreme Court for example, I don’t know but let me not dive into court matter but if they give judgment to Ali Modu Sheriff, PDP will come out and move to another party and they will be registered, that is the truth. They will leave the PDP for him and let him carry it to anywhere he wants to carry it to. Well, let him carry the party and go to anywhere. We will be watching him and PDP will stand on its own.
I know that they may spoil things for PDP. But PDP will come up stronger. We are just waiting for them, because visionary leaders, people like Nyesom Wike and Fayose know how to recoup, reorganize and raconteur, that is just the truth. They cannot be beaten; Nyesom Wike read political science before he read law, so he knows the onus of the matter and what it takes. He is a ground politician, well breed, so if he is talking politics, he dines in politics and wine in politics. He is the jackal of Nigerian politics; that you will give to him.
WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO RIVERS PEOPLE ON THE RECENTLY CONCLUDED 50 YEARS ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION? You see, my advice to Rivers people is very clear, first to the government. The government should do the needful by creating job opportunities. The government has started well with the amnesty and should create an enabling environment where these boys that have dropped arms should not be abandoned. They should create room for reorientation and rehabilitation through seminars, workshops and skills acquisition, so that these boys can have something after now. Then, for the youths, they should be more purposeful. The youths should see how they can organize themselves, it is not going to university that is the issue, find something to do, that will keep you. Don’t wait for government to employ you, you can employ yourself, you can be self employed.
There is nothing wrong, for example, a graduate been a vulcanizer, you may be selling fuel in a petrol station as long as you are getting money. It is just an example that I am giving and there is nothing wrong going into farming, fisheries, piggeries or animal husbandry because that is where the money is, now. The government must fight criminality, crime in the society, because out of no job, youth restiveness and so on, is why people are getting involved in criminal activities and government must synergize with the security agents to curtail the excesses of criminality in our state; that is just my advice.